INDIANAPOLIS — It’s hard to say there’s a silver lining to the pandemic, especially for small business owners.
“It (the pandemic) was unlike anything else,” said Lilly Lane flower shop owner, Becky Ruby-Wojtowicz. Wojttowicz said that she’s provided flowers, from her business in Broad Ripple, for more than 1,000 weddings and big events for years now.
She said she’s proud that she provides flowers with, “The prettiest colors that they have. The things that are going to last the longest for our clients.” However, when the pandemic hit, the work had to stop at least for a little bit. So, she adapted and began offering home deliveries and subscriptions to a flower club.
Then, one day, Wojtowicz got a specific call, from a customer looking to send flowers and beer as a combined delivery gift.
Wojtowicz said, “And then she said, I'm having a heck of a time finding a florist that will do it for me and I said well, you called the right one.”
So she immediately reached out to the owner of Black Acre Brewing Company, Steven Ruby.
“She pitched it and I said, 'I think that sounds great,'” said Ruby, and together, they started offering “Beers and Blooms.”
“As far as I know, we are the only folks who are offering a routine beer-plus-flowers delivery program, and in Indy,” said Wojtowicz
Ruby said, “when it was suggested was like yeah this is actually a very common thing to get together but just, you don't put it together, necessarily.”
One could argue, it’s the perfect combo.
“You can buy your wife or your girlfriend flowers, or your partner flowers, but if it comes with a four-pack of craft beer for you too. Oh darn,” said Wojtowicz, sarcastically.
Ruby said, “People are so excited, especially because, like Becky said, it appeals to everyone in the relationship.”
And if you think Steven and Becky are a combo of their own, well that’s because they’re brother and sister.
“So I'm probably the bossy older sister and that's fine,” said Wojtowicz.
“When she said that she was the slightly maternal one I'm gonna say that that is so far the understatement of 2021,” said Ruby.
Both of them, even sharing unorthodox career paths. “Even going through college, I was, you know, off to become a public relations executive and Steven was going to be a lawyer,” said Wojtowicz.
From lawyer to brewery owner, Ruby said it’s a “stark difference.” However, he said knowing the law is “incredibly helpful because it turns out that alcohol is very heavily regulated.”
Ruby’s knowledge helps with this new delivery service, as Black Acre Brewing manages the orders and drops off the Beers and Blooms, to customers in the I-465 loop and Becky brings a new clientele.
It’s expanding business, from one sprouting idea.
“Again, the pandemic has really forced us to think, how are we doing this and what else can we do?” said Ruby.
From the start, these siblings have supported each other through thick and thin.
Wojtowicz said, “Not to get ‘chokie’ (Choked up) about it but when I quit my job to start Lilly Lane. Steven actually moved in with me, so that we could both still afford my mortgage at the time ... And so both kind of having to pivot during the pandemic, there was a lot of leaning on each other.”
“It was a very stressful year and a half,” said Ruby.
Still, signs of the pandemic persist. Wojtowicz said, “(Sigh) we haven't yet finished seeing all the fallout from it.”
However, it’s small businesses like Lilly Lane and Black Acre that make the community flourish.
“I can sit here and say, yep, we started beer and blooms and last week I finished sponsoring the YMCA is spring soccer season. There’s a direct correlation between keeping a local business open and seeing that local support in your community,” said Wojtowicz
Now, Wojtowicz and Ruby hope their story plants support for all Hoosier business owners and show how two businesses blossomed no matter the environment.
For more information on Beers and Blooms, we have a link here.